A few weeks ago a couple of my Filipina girls brought me to a Catholic mass in Korea. I was fascinated to see hundreds of Filipinos pour into one place to experience something deeper than themselves; a place of community, familiarity, a place to find peace among hardships in a foreign land. It was an interesting experience being one of the only foreigners stared at for 1.5 hours as well as listening to the whole service spoken in Digalo.
I knew many of the people sitting next to me were illegal immigrants. I was curious why immigration wasn’t storming the place. One of the girls explained that the immigration respected the Catholic church and wouldn’t enter. I guess they don’t want to start a riot as well as many of the political leaders have strong beliefs. Either way, this political decision gives many Filipinos a safe haven each week, which for that I am grateful.
I still couldn’t believe how many Filipinos came to mass! They went on to explain that this was the only mass done in their language in all of Seoul (Hyehwa district) so many Filipinos travel great distances to come (80% of Filipinos claim to be Catholic).
The picture below is the only one I took of this occasion. Didn’t want to knock someone out with my mega zoom lense and ruin the atmosphere during the hymns.
Although, I was itching to capture the spread of different faces that was displayed. Faces expressing solitude after the daily stresses of life in Korea; faces with tear filled eyes as they are seeking hope from the financial burdens awaiting them back in the Philippines; and my favorite: faces of pure boredom from the ritual duty of checking off mass from their mother’s list of requirements. Couldn’t stop laughing at the teen who continually yawned and almost fell asleep (while standing) trying to sing hymns in the choir! Sorry, no picture but you can visually try to imagine with your mind.
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